What is Black Lives Matter at School?
The Black Lives Matter movement is a powerful, non-violent peace movement which systematically examines injustices that exist at the intersections of race, class, and gender; including mass incarceration, poverty, non-affordable housing, income disparity, homophobia, unfair immigration laws, gender inequality, and poor access to healthcare.
The goal of the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action is to spark ongoing critical reflection and honest conversations in school communities for people of all ages to engage with critical issues of social justice. It is our duty as educators and community members to civically engage children and families to build their empathy, collaboration and agency so they are able to thrive. (DC Area Educators for Social Justice)
What does this look like at School for Friends?
As part of our social justice work throughout the year, we participate in the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action during the first week of February along with other schools across the country. Many of the Black Lives Matter guiding principles are part of the School for Friends philosophy such as restorative justice, empathy, loving connection, diversity, and collective value. They are inclusive of the Quaker testimonies of peace, integrity, equality, community and stewardship. The Black Lives Matter guiding principles also align with the non-negotiable Anti-Bias education goals stated in the School for Friends diversity statement. The Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action involves designing and implementing curriculum that incorporates the Black Lives Matter guiding principles.
How do you explore the guiding principles with young children?
Based on our continuous work and focus on empathy, kindness and diversity in addition to our Quaker identity, School for Friends intentionally plans which principles can be intertwined into the curriculum based on each age group. We are so committed to these ideals that we presented on this topic at the NAEYC Annual National Conference in 2018 and 2019. Throughout the year, empathy is the primary focus and during BLM week, younger children are engaged in activities reinforcing this piece. Books on feelings and friendship that reflect diverse families and the use of puppets for various scenarios for modeling and coaching children in their daily interactions will contribute to the building of empathy in our youngest students. Teachers of the older children highlight all of the guiding principles and use this opportunity to continue to help children recognize and act against unfairness, learn how to be an ally as well as affirm and celebrate the diversity of our school community including staff, children and families. Here is an example of an activity on restorative justice and empathy as well as one on transgender affirming.
School for Friends is committed, as always, and will continue to promote these values for this week and throughout the year. We believe that Black Lives Matter.
From the Parent Information Session on the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action. Examples of books used to explore Queer and Transgender Affirming guiding principles.
A parent looking through children’s books during the Parent Information Session.
School for Friends staff wear Black Lives Matter at School shirts in solidarity.
The Eagles, Sea Lions and Tigers worked collectively to create a quilt of drawings of what is black and beautiful to the children.